Sustainability on Trial: Environmental Justice in Northern Europe

sustainability seminar 2023
Kayaking in Stockholm, spring 2023

Program Description

Sustainability on Trial: Environmental Justice in Northern Europe is a Signature Seminar designed for students as part of their semester abroad with Syracuse London. Through intensive field studies featuring ‘smart’ buildings, working huskies, and wilderness spaces, students will examine diverse and contested approaches to ‘being green’.

This seminar invites you to consider:

  • What kinds of environmental innovations are being tested in Europe?
  • Everyone talks about sustainability and justice – but what do they mean, really?
  • Who wins and loses in ‘green cities’ and other ‘ecotourism’?

You will travel as a group to green buildings in sustainable cities, breathtaking landscapes throughout Scandinavia, and Indigenous Lands in the Arctic Circle to discover how creative innovations that value both heritage and innovation are supporting (or failing) environmental justice.

In each of the destinations, the group will directly engage with inequalities in access to clean air, food, water, energy, land, and natural spaces. You will explore how environmental crises around the globe impact Nordic communities, how the actions taken in these spaces affect peoples in other parts of the world, and how we can learn from these leaders in sustainable solutions.

Field Studies Highlights

This travelling course will spend time exploring sustainable urban design in the UK; indigenous livelihoods in the Arctic Circle; and ecotourism in Scandinavia. Activities will include:

a student wearing bright orange crouches by a reindeer in the Arctic forest

-site visits to examine ‘smart’ and carbon-reduction technologies;

-the chance to meet iconic animals, such as reindeer and huskies;

-a boat tour of picturesque landscapes.

Program Dates

Sustainability on Trial is typically offered as a pre-semester seminar in the fall and spring semesters. It begins before the London Center semester program starts and returns to London upon completion. Visit the Program Dates page for specific seminar dates.

Course Information

This seminar carries three credits listed in Geography. You can learn more about the class and see examples of student coursework through this PSA about Ethical Travel, a series of protest posters inspired by the trip, and a policy brief about urban green spaces.


Dr. Becca Farnum is an environmental activist-academic currently serving as program staff at Syracuse University London. Her doctoral research partnered with local organizations in the Middle East and North Africa using nature to bridge political divides. Past projects have involved contributing to United Nations policy on environmental peacebuilding; running an environmental educational exchange between Norway and Norfolk; and serving a stint with Michelle Obama’s Correspondence Team at The White House. Her teaching focuses on inclusive learning and transformative pedagogies, supporting students to understand and purposefully impact global change. Learn more about Becca’s work in this Syracuse Story about learning opportunities during the Spring 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.


The seminar program fee includes all travel between and around the region; group accommodations; entrance fees to sites; guided tours and activities; course materials; and at least one main meal a day. Meet with your financial aid counselor to discuss possible support for this course fee.

Eligibility & Admissions

All students accepted for a semester at the London Center, including Special Programs, can apply for this seminar. Previous knowledge of geography or environmentalism is not required, though space is limited and some preference may be given to students whose curricular interests best align with course themes. If there is insufficient interest, the Seminar will be canceled and your deposit refunded.


To apply, log into the Syracuse Abroad application portal and indicate that you are interested by Monday, October 10. If accepted, you must pay a $300 non-refundable deposit to the Syracuse Abroad office by October 17.

For more information about this Signature Seminar, contact Joelle Orecki, London’s International Program Advisor.